One of the things that I learned from my driver’s education instructor was never to look at a passerby on the sidewalk when you’re driving. Why? When you look at anything, other than the car in front of you, you’re inclined to steer toward it. This phenomenon is a well-known principle in dirt bike riding known as target fixation. Experienced bikers will caution you against looking at a potential hazard, such as a large rock, when riding, because you’ll unconsciously steer toward it. This principle applies to other areas of your life. In fact, that’s how an expectation drives performance.
Your expectations don’t just influence your destiny, they determine it.
You are influenced by your parents, friends, teachers, and society at large. While some of them will bolster your outlook, and encourage you to reach for the sky, a naysayer can undermine your expectations for the future. It should be noted that some of those folks have your best interest at heart, while others have a chip on their shoulder, possess a different agenda, or were seduced by naysayers into drinking the Kool-Aid themselves — and they want to pour you a cup of gloom and doom.
What happens when someone plants the seeds of negativity?
According to confirmation bias, a phrase coined by the late English psychologist Peter Wason, people tend to gravitate to information that confirms or strengthens their existing beliefs and values. That information reinforces your viewpoints and shapes your expectations over time.
Given that, if you believe the world’s unfair, you’ll be on the lookout for things to go wrong and people to do you harm — just like the dirt bike rider fixated on a hazard ahead. That negative expectation will ultimately turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy. That’s not only counterproductive; it’s disheartening, debilitating, and destructive. It’s like driving through life with your emergency brake on.
Tell me your expectation, and I’ll tell you the probable outcome.
Your Expectations Matter More Than You Think
Your expectations can have a dramatic impact on your behavior as well as your performance. For example:
If you believe people are trustworthy, you’re going to manage relationships differently than if you think everyone’s out to get you.
If you believe hard work pays off, you’re going to view tough days differently than if you believe your company’s trying to take advantage of you.
If you believe life has its ups and downs, you’re going to view bad days differently than if you think you’re the only one with problems.
In essence, if you believe the world is your oyster, you’ll pursue it with vigor. Conversely, if you think nobody like you stands a chance, you’ll quit before you even start.
Expectations Are Everything
You have a choice to adopt a mindset that’s either constructive or destructive. How important is that? Your beliefs are more powerful than you think. Just ask any world-class athlete.
Elite athletes utilize the power of visualization for directing a positive script in their head. Guided visualization is the act of consciously rehearsing a skill, routine, or performance in your mind’s eye to program your body for success. In essence you’re mentally rehearsing the outcome that you want.
“Olympic medalist Mary Lou Retton is one of the greatest American female gymnasts ever. She used visualization to imagine herself performing perfect routines on each piece of equipment, and she didn’t stop there. She then pictured herself standing on the podium wearing her gold medal, and she could even hear her national anthem playing in the background.
She is also all about positivity, as expressed in this quote: ‘I try to look at every situation with a positive attitude. I don’t go into situations thinking maybe or probably. I go into it thinking I’m going to do it.’”
There are countless stories about people who believed so much in another person that they continually reinforced how successful that person would be one day. And guess what? That person became so convinced that success was in the cards that they set high expectations for themselves and achieved everything they set their sights on. You see, you have the ability to achieve anything you want in life. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. But don’t expect to wake up and learn that you’ve become an overnight success. It simply doesn’t work that way. It takes hard work, determination, and commitment. In any event, success starts with the expectation that you can achieve your goal. Think positive. Reach for the stars. Enjoy the journey.
What Do You Think?
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